Attaining Emotional Maturity: 5 Actions to Quit During Covid-19

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Think back to when you were in junior high. The two most enjoyable words to a preteen/early teen are the words, Summer vacation. Summer vacation brings no school, sleeping in, outdoor fun and indoor laziness. It was a license to be a sloth for 90 days. 

What it also brought was time away from classmates. 

For three months you would not see the kids who went to school with you during summer vacation unless they lived in your neighborhood, played on your summer baseball team or went to your church. 

Junior high students would go three months not seeing the kids they went to school with and then, as they gather back together in the early Fall, on the first day of school, many of the kids last seen on the last day of school months prior do not look the same at all. 

Puberty had changed them. 

Some kids were taller. Some kids had acne. Some kids had body developments and bodily hair. Some kids smelled different. Some kids had lower voices. All of the kids had extreme mood swings.

Three months went by, growth had happened in the junior high students and when seen after the hiatus of summer vacation, there was visible change. 

For non-essential workers and students right now, we have been given a gift. While we still have at-home responsibilities with work and school and home-life, we have been given a slower lifestyle – a lifestyle away from others. Months away from others. 

How great would it be when some type of normalcy returns – when routine is back in your life – if, when you are around the people you are around, they have to do a double-take to recognize you? 

We’re not talking physically (please, stay active during this season), we’re talking relationally. We’re talking spiritually. We’re talking about your personality is different.  

After months of not seeing others, what if you used this time to grow and mature as a person who is more loving, kinder, gentler and more patient?

There are ways we can stagnate our own growth. Like a preteen smoking daily or drinking gallons of coffee, we can keep ourselves from growing to the potential we have.  

Sometimes God wants us to repent of our personality. 

Check out what James 1:19-21 says: 

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James :19-21)

The kind of people that refuse to repent of their personality are the ones who block God from growing them. They don’t produce as much spiritual fruit as they could. 

Here’s 5 kinds of ways to resist growth: 

1. Be a Noisy Chatterbox. 

You know what a chatterbox is, right? You’re like, I think I do. I might be one. I don’t know. Am I? I prefer the term “verbal processor.”

This is a person who talks way too much about others. 

They’re the person who always has to talk, fill the air, always wants the last word, makes sure their voice is always heard, would rather talk about someone else than deal with their own stuff. Their coin phrase is, Let me tell you what I think about this. Or they say, Did you hear about what happened to…..?

Are you a noisy chatterbox? If you don’t know, ask your spouse or your children or your parents, they will let you know. If you can stop talking to hear their response, they will tell you. If this is you, it might be good to practice what James says: slow to speak…..think before you speak….pray before you speak… maybe not speak…..practice silence…Do you ever pray and not talk?….Do you ever just sit and listen to God’s Spirit?……If not, you might be a chatterbox.

The rabbis uses to say, God gave us two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we speak.

Instead of being a noisy chatterbox, be, slow to speak (James 1:19).

2. Be a Bad Listener.

Are you a bad listener?

A bad listener is someone who’s so distracted, so much going on in their mind and in their schedule, they’re frantic and don’t listen well. Other times, bad listeners are those who hear advice, they hear wisdom, they hear the truth and they ignore it. They don’t like it so they walk away from it. They hear it, but they don’t listen because if they listened, they would change. 

Some of you are not good listeners. You’ve gotten information, instruction, truth, you’ve been taught God’s Word, read God’s Word – you just don’t listen to it. You don’t ponder on it, you don’t receive it, consider it, believe it, plant it – and that’s why you don’t change………What you need is not more information, you need more receptivity……..more humility under God……

Instead of being a bad listener, be, quick to hear (James 1:19).

3. Have a Short Fuse.

Has someone said that to you? You’ve got a short fuse! This is a person prone to anger.

Now, out of these 5 things that keep us from growing in Christ, there will be one that is most convicting to you, and this one is most convicting to me. I’m not a yeller, but I get frustrated from being so easily disappointed. I’m allowing God to purge it out of me. 

I used to think, Well, God gets angry, so it’s okay if I get angry – I used to spiritualize it, but James says that God does not get angry like we get angry. We get angry quick. God doesn’t. Over and over Scripture shares that God is slow to anger.

His patience is so much longer than ours. He does get angry. He will not let the guilty go unpunished. He will not let unbelievers continue injustice. But it’s a very long wick because our God is a God of great mercy and grace.

We have a short fuse. Any little thing can set us off at any moment. The people around you are always on guard, on eggshells. It’s like a landmine – the slightest bump will incur an explosion. We need to learn to be slow to anger – quick to compassion and slow to anger. Then we’ll grow.

Instead of having a short fuse, instead, be, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).

4. Be a Compromising Hypocrite.

The compromiser is showing up increasingly in our culture. It’s in our children. It’s in our young adults. It’s even in our older adults. It’s the person who can’t stand this specific sin, but they can tolerate that specific sin. It’s a Pharisee – they caught the woman in adultery, a visible sin, but they ignored their own judgmental, condemning attitude toward her – an internal, unseen sickness.

More so than that, this person admits, That behavior is wrong. I hate it. But this behavior, though wrong, is fun and I kind of like it. They’re inconsistent. Is the Bible the unchanging Word of God or something we can cut and paste? They segment their life to God, they don’t give their all to God. They have offense at what God says, think they know better, and choose to believe the world over the Creator of the world. 

We shouldn’t just clean up part of our lives and let sin run rampant in other parts of our secret, private areas.

The compromiser is willing to put up with the hidden sin they continue to do. They think, no one’s perfect – yes, Someone is (Jesus) and He expects you to put away all filthiness. If it’s offensive to God it should not be flirted with by you. Let’s not segment our lives, let’s surrender our lives

Instead of compromising and being inauthentic, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness… (James 1:21)

5. Be a Constant Know-It-All. 

This is the person that can’t be taught, they’re not teachable, because they think they already know it all in their mind. They are never humble to admit, I don’t know. I need help. I didn’t know that. Thanks for the help.

 Do you have these people at work, or in the family? As soon as you try to educate them, they’re like, Oh, I knew that. 

This group has a tough time submitting to authority. They make sure you know how smart they are. T

he issue is pride and the solution is humility. 

The issue is they reject instruction, the solution is they should receive, with meekness, with modesty,  God’s Word. 

The reason people do not receive God’s Word is they think they know how to run their own life – and that’s why they’re not changing for the better.

Rather, we should pray daily, God, I am not as smart as You. Your ways are not my ways. I have much to learn. I have much growth to do. I am broken and need You. Thank You for Your mercy and wisdom.

Instead of constantly showing others how you know it all, receive with meekness the implanted word…. (James 1:21)

We have the capacity of doing all of these 5 things that refuse us the opportunity to grow – but –  if you want to grow, you have to see how much God loves you and receive the wisdom of the Bible into your heart. Know the Word. Do the Word. Read the Bible. Apply the Bible. It’s like two pedals on a bike – know the Bible, do what it says – because God loves you. 

I’ve yet to be to a high school reunion but I’ve always wonder how they go. People who knew you a certain way, how you acted, what habits you had, how you spoke, how you looked – and then years or decades later – they’re reacquainted with you. 

Do your high school friends from years past consider you the same person? A worse person? Or someone who has had growth and a maturity and an improved personality and spirit in them? 

We’ve all heard the phrase when speaking about immure adults, They still at like they’re still in high school. It’s because they keep 

If you want to grow, if you want to mature, here are the great qualities to develop during this season of lock-down: 

Be slow to speak (the natural instinct is to talk about others). 

Be quick to listen (the natural instinct is to interrupt or be distracted). 

Be full of grace (the natural instinct is to flip a lid on the people around us). 

Be someone who has values and tries to stick to them (the natural instinct is to compromise). 

Be someone who is hungry to learn more about God and life (the natural instinct is pride). 

Like a seed in the ground in springtime you have this great opportunity to grow and then when society’s doors open back up, maybe those around you won’t even recognize you – in a great way. 

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Z

Going From Anger to Gentleness (One Daily Action)

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In Proverbs chapter 15, we see how powerful gentleness is. 

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1)

Gentleness can diffuse. It’s powerful.
Harshness is also powerful. It can ignite. 

If the people are walking on eggshells when they are near you, that’s an indication that you are not placing your life under the lead of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. It shows your prayer life is sporadic or non-existent. 

[I want to be clear to the Christians reading because I am concerned many people are living their lives in an unaccountable way, always being on the throne of their choice of emotions.] 

The Bible’s wisdom gives the follower of Jesus no room for unnecessary roughness penalties against those in our daily lives. There is no room for angry outbursts. There is no room for profanity in anger. There is no room for belittling others. There is no room for resentment or bitterness. 

How others see you and what is inside of you can be some ugly stuff when you don’t let the Spirit control you each day. God desires for us to be better than that. 

Stupid people express their anger openly, but sensible people are patient and hold it back. (Proverbs 29:11)

Foolish people are rough on others. Wise people are gentle toward others. 

Anger is something I’ve been tempted to give into most of my life. It’s easy for me to get angry. I’ve read a lot about it. We get angry toward two areas. 

(1) Inanimate Objects

One area we get angry toward are inanimate objects. 

We stub our foot on the sofa and we go, Stupid ,sofa! 

Our computer crashes and we go, Stupid computer! 

We slice a golf ball into the woods and we go, Stupid 6 iron!

We actually yell at inanimate objects. We call thing not breathing, stupid. 

Who’s really the stupid one?

The other area we get angry toward are:

(2) People We View as Less-Than

Southern comedian named Bill Engvall, had a schtick about being mad at stupid people. Maybe you remember it, Here’s your sign: (and the sign reads: Stupid).

Engvall speaks of a semi truck driver getting stuck trying to make it under an overpass and a police officer pulled up next to the incident and said to the truck driver: What, did you get stuck? 

And the truck driver said, Nope. Not at all. I was trying to deliver this bridge and I ran out of gas. 

Here’s your sign. 

We get frustrated at people who we view as less-than. We think they’re not as smart, not as successful, not as put together, not as great as we are. 

We walk into a room and automatically think we are the best person in that room. This makes everyone around us easy targets to get angry toward. 

Stupid things and people we view as less-than us make us angry. 

What you’ll rarely hear come out of the mouth of a person who is angry is this: 

I make me so mad!!!!

An angry person never is rough on themselves. They are always mad at something or someone else. Always blaming and shifting focus off their short-comings. It enables them in their mindset to be harsh on others. 

But the statement, I make me so mad!!! ends up becoming true. If you give into anger, all it leads to is more anger. You do make yourself so mad. 

It’s not the inanimate objects fault you are rough. It’s not a bad driver on the road or an annoying co-worker, or the poor results of your performance or the unmet expectations of your children. 

It’s not a thing and it’s not someone else. 

Upon further review: You make you mad. 

You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight. (James 1:19)

Those who pause and pray and don’t react right away, those are also the people who don’t get angry. Slow to speak is slow to anger. That kind of restraint comes from relying on the Spirit. 

I’m coaching a U10 girls soccer team this Fall. The soccer field is huge and the players are running around for 50 minutes, giving it their all. 

After the game, as we debrief and I am telling them how proud I am of them, it’s snack time. They get some fruit. They get a treat. And they get a drink. 

The drink they get every Saturday seems to be a Capri Sun. 

Capri Suns are a German product named after the Italian island, Capri. They are difficult to open, difficult to puncture a straw through. 

What kids don’t get about Capri Suns is that you shouldn’t squeeze them. You can just drink the juice through the straw. But every kid in the history of holding a Capri Sun has to squeeze them. 

What is in the pouch, comes out when you squeeze. Juice all over your shirt. All over the backseat of my car. 

You and I are just like Capri Suns.

Whatever is on the inside of us, when a little life-pressure is applied, whatever is inside is going to come out of us. 

If it’s all of the things the Spirit of God gives us, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness) when we get squeezed, that’s what comes out toward others. 

If we’ve got unresolved tension or bitterness or impatience or rage inside of us, when life hits a bump, guess what gets spilled all over the people near us?

We get so filled up inside with past hurt, with sad memories, with failure, with insecurity and disappointment, (add to that an overloaded schedule and the pain that happens to us at times, we are doing so much and going through so much) any time anything or anyone jostles us a bit, what’s inside squirts out and people around us get hurt.

The other day I was in a fast food drive through with my children. One of my kids noticed the car in front of us, mom in front seat, small girl in back seat. The girl in the back was picking her nose. She was on a mission. She was digging deeply.  

Both of my kids start to giggle uncontrollably. Even I was drawn to binge-watch what was going on. 

I used it as a teaching moment to tell them that someone is always watching us, whether we realize it or not (that little girl digging deep didn’t realize we were watching her). 

Someone is watching when we are frustrated at a waitress, or a grocery store clerk. 

Someone is watching when we’re mad at a referee at a game. 

Someone is watching when a child is unfairly treated on the bus or on the playground. 

Someone is watching how you interact with coworkers or neighbors or customers. 

The kids at home are watching when mom and dad get into it. 

We are always on display. 

I don’t want the pressure of life to make my angry obvious to those around me. I want gentleness to be a characteristic that others notice. 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. (Philippians 4:4-5)

If I can’t have my gentleness be evident to all, I at least want it to be evident to my family. I want the word gentleness to be some of the first words they use when they describe me at my funeral. 

To help with that, I am committed to not let any of the stress of my day or the feelings of tough circumstances enter into my home.

I’ve done this for years wherever we have lived and recommend it to anyone, no matter how silly it feels. It works. 

There’s a nail I have nailed in the mortar of the brick wall of our home.

It’s a small nail, above our doorbell on the right side of our front door. You can barely see it, and that’s the point. 

No matter when I get home from a long day, or what stress or frustration I feel for how things are going, or how exhausted I am, I sit in my vehicle parked in the driveway for a few moments, pray for any of that hardship or negativity to not enter the home with me. 

I get out of the car and hang all of that emotional weight onto the nail.

It’s an imaginary necklace I take off my neck and hang it onto the real nail. I physically do this action. 

Then I go inside a refreshed, fun, present, patient, gentle husband and father.

It’s not just on stressful days or disappointing days – I don’t just hang those up, I hang my imaginary anger sword on the nail too. I don’t want to come into my home with any harshness. I don’t want to bring fear. I don’t want to bring intimidation. 

And guess what? When I wake up the next day, after I kiss my wife and am thankful for her, kiss our daughters and instill encouragement in them, when I head out for the day, guess what is waiting for me on that nail?

The stress and my sword to go forward and tackle the day with the Lord. 

You don’t have to do this, but  believe it’s shaping my family from seeing me as someone angry and exhausted and impatient to someone who is gentle. 

Over time, it could be the difference between someone seeing you as harsh and someone seeing you as gentle. 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. (Philippians 4:4-5)

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Z